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    Diplomacy and Repression

    Cuba: Diplomacy and Repression / Ivan Garcia
    Posted on December 20, 2013

    While General Raul Castro, a president handpicked by his brother Fidel,
    squeezed the hand of the United States’ leader Barack Obama at the State
    funeral of Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, the special services and
    combined forces of the police mounted a strong operation around the home
    of dissident Antonio Rodiles, director of the Estado de Sats, a project
    where diverse political and civic strands that coexist in the illegal
    world of Cuban opposition come together.

    Also on December 10, while the headlines of the dailies of the world
    media highlighted on their front pages the leaders’ unprecedented
    handshake, the hard guys of the State Security were repressing activists
    in the eastern region of Cuba and detaining some twenty Ladies in White
    in Havana and dozens of opponents in the rest of the country.

    All this happens under the indifferent gaze of ordinary Cubans, whose
    central objective is to try to get two plates of food to the table each
    day. Neither for the corner grocer, the individual taxi driver or people
    waiting for the bus at a busy stop was the greeting newsworthy.

    The regime knows that an elevated percentage of the population remains
    in the bleachers, observing the national political panorama. What is of
    the people is to subsist, emigrate or see the way to set up a small shop
    that permits one to earn some pesos.

    Meanwhile, the olive green autocrats clamor to negotiate. But with the
    United States. It does not matter to them, for now, to sit down to
    dialogue with an opposition that has unquestionable merit: the value of
    publicly dissenting within a totalitarian regime.

    It has paid its price. Years in jail, exile, and repression. But neither
    the right which it should enjoy — of being considered a political force
    — nor the acts of repudiation and beatings, have cemented a state of
    favorable opinion within a majority of citizens disgusted with the lousy
    governmental management by the Castros for 55 years.

    Here is the key. By being focused on the exterior, the dissidence does
    not count on popular support, on men and women who before the regime’s
    gross injustices throw themselves into the street to protest. That
    weakness is what permits the authorities to not take it into account.

    I do not believe one owes a handshake to a ruler who represses those who
    think differently. This December 10 the Universal Declaration of Human
    Rights, of which Cuba is a signatory, turns 65.

    No high flying political strategy has paid off after a series of steps
    that democratic countries have taken trying to push Cuba.

    Neither the Ibero-American Summits or leading CELAC pro tempore have
    impeded the Havana Government in continuing to repress the dissidents
    with laws and physical violence.

    Fidel and Raul Castro have dismissively mocked everyone and everything.
    They initialed the Economic, Cultural, Political and Civil Rights Pacts
    in February 2008, and later did not ratify them.

    Cuba is the only country in the western hemisphere where the opposition
    is considered illegal. And the only nation that does not hold free
    elections to elect its presidents.

    Cuba is not a democracy. Obama well knows it.

    If behind that handshake, the second in a half century by a president of
    the United States (the first was that of Bill Clinton with Fidel Castro
    at the Millennial Summit in New York, September 6, 2000), there exists a
    discrete message about future negotiations to repeal the embargo or
    improve relations between the countries, ordinary people and a sector of
    the dissidence would not see it as a bad thing.

    Maybe the greeting does not come to be something more than ceremonial
    and isolated. Or maybe a change of policy by the White House. The
    gringos have always been very pragmatic.

    In a serious negotiation, both sides must give. The bad news is that the
    regime feigns change, but continues repressing the opposition. Diplomacy
    on one hand, clubs on the other.

    Ivan Garcia

    Photo: One of the Ladies in White detained Tuesday, December 10, during
    a peaceful demonstration for the Day of Human Rights on the downtown
    corner of 23 and L, Vedado, Havana. Taken by ABC.

    Translated by mlk.

    17 December 2013

    Source: “Cuba: Diplomacy and Repression / Ivan Garcia | Translating
    Cuba” –